Monday, September 10, 2018

Friendly Chinese make my days in China

Ismail Hossain,

image from article, with caption:  Illustration: Peter C.Espina/GT

I came to Beijing at the end of February from Bangladesh to attend a Chinese public diplomacy [JB emphasis]  program for ten months. At first, it was difficult to move anywhere due to the language barrier and weather shock.

In Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, we rarely experience below 15-degree temperature. Here, it was regularly below zero or around zero in February and March which was discouraging for me to go anywhere, leaving my cozy apartment in Jianguomen in Beijing's Dongcheng district.

But after some time, I gradually got used to the weather and started to walk around.

I still remember my Nepali friend Anuj, who asked me to go to the University of International Business and Economics in the Huixin Dongjie area, Chaoyang district in April, where a cultural festival was happening, thus providing a possibility that I might meet Bangladeshi students there.

It was already noon when we arrived with the sun just above my head. There were around 70 stalls set up by different countries including Bangladesh. The campus was totally in a chaos. Everybody was playing their songs and dancing. But it felt nice to join the crowd.

We started to sample different foods and liquors from different countries and regions of China and took photos with students representing these places. Everybody was trying to promote their foods and cultures and it was a very nice experience.

Being a little bit tired and full from tasting the various foods and liquors, I went to a small park inside the campus to take a rest. There I found two Chinese young boys, playing guitar and singing in Chinese which I did not understand. Their melancholic and melodious voices and music attracted me. I sat there. They offered me a cigarette, and I offered them liquor.

We started to talk about so many issues even though I didn't understand Chinese and their English was very much limited. I even used a translation app. Language cannot be an obstacle when people really want to communicate and language is not enough if people are reluctant to communicate.

After we started talking, they suddenly offered us to visit their studio.

They called a taxi and said it was a 15-minute ride from the university campus. We bought a lot of liquor and food from a shop nearby. However, when we tried to pay, they repeatedly said, "you are our guests. You are the guests of China. You can't pay."

The evening time had arrived and they began to play their songs written by themselves.

We all were talking about our families, countries, cultures and music. Anuj and I sang and they played for us.

Time went by very quick. We had to leave because we had a program the next morning, but our generous hosts insisted we stay. At last, we left the studio promising we would meet again.

I've been living in China for six months. I met so many Chinese people who are very nice and friendly. At first they are shy, but if you can break the ice, they are the friendliest people in the world.

This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.

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